Tag Archives: containers with tropicals

More Container Gardens…Foliage, Flowers and Pizazz!

The last post highlighted a few shade planters, and I hope this one will give you ideas for your hot, sunny spots. Even with large planters maintaining a set watering schedule is important when plantings are sited in full sun.  If your plantings wilt as a result of being too dry between watering over and over, eventually they’ll become so stressed they won’t recover. So, if you’ll be leaving for any extended period, ask a neighbor or friend to check your plantings and water regularly.

This planting is easy to hand water since it needs to be dry...

This planting is easy to hand water since it needs to be dry…

The first planting is a classic “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” combination, designed for a tall urn, using a silver foliage plant called cardoon. It will get very large, creating a dramatic centerpiece while the  mounding, succulent echevarias fill the middle with their pinky gray rosettes. The beautiful heat tolerant trailing dichondra creates a waterfall of shimmery silver over the edge. This is the most drought tolerant of the plantings shown here but still needs attention – even succulents need water!

Planted Container for SummerThe next uses a red fountain grass for height in a tall planter with the addition of white Profusion zinnias and white euphorbia as fillers. Spilling out are blue daze and potato vine. This planting will bloom continuously with regular water and periodic deadheading or clipping back of the zinnias. Late in the summer the grass will begin to bloom for an end of the season finale.

Wheelbarrow - Planted For Summer


This wheelbarrow is a fun and bright mix of flowers and herbs and will provide a riot of color through the hottest months. This type of whimsical container calls for a jumble of color,  and here it’s provided by zinnias, vinca, fanflower, rudbeckia, ornamental oregano, purple basil, and thyme. It would be perfect in the middle of a cottage kitchen garden! It will be necessary to deadhead the zinnias as they fade, cut back the fan flower periodically, pinch the vinca if necessary, and harvest the basil and thyme. Watering daily will be a must, since it’s planted very intensively with many plants.

Urn - Chamaecyparis and Summer AnnualsMany of you have pots that have shrubs in them that live year round, and just need some color added each season. In this example, the Chamaecyparis adds yellow foliage and is complimented through the summer with yellow million bells, white narrow leaf zinnias,  silver dichondra and some euphorbia. The million bells and zinnias will be cut back when they get too leggy (There’s no need to deadhead each individual bloom on these.) and it will be watered daily, since the Chamaecyparis has been in this planter for a few years and it’s roots are filling the planter quite extensively.

Planted Container for Summer - AlocasiaThe final planting uses a dramatic, and very large Alocasia – this speaks for itself, though it has supporting players as well, including dracaena, epescia, nepenthes, and alternanthera. It’s quite a combo.

I hope this and the previous posts will give you the confidence to try new plants and combinations, to be braver about cutting plants back (Yes,  they do need it every now and then!) and the understanding that these types of intensive plantings need regular water whether you’re home or not to keep them looking their best. 

Color With Caladiums, Zinnias, and More…Trough Planting 2014

These three  horse troughs are lined up along the sidewalk...

These three horse troughs are lined up along the sidewalk…

The three horse troughs that are planted each year at Dyron’s restaurant next door finally got their summer makeover the other day.  Last year’s troughs  were planted with a variety of herbs and annuals, and you can see them if you click on the link above.

This year’s planting utilizes the  tropical shrub, thryallis. It’s bright yellow flowers provide continuous color through our summer heat and will show off well in this spot. These planters get very hot afternoon sun,  and I’ve found that brighter colors really work best here.

Thryallis, 'Red Flash' caladiums, Acalypha 'Tahitian Gold'While all caladiums appreciate heat and shade, there are some that can also handle sun, including ‘Red Flash’, the one shown here. These deep red leaves will mingle with the other foliage and flowers, including a copper plant, Acalypha ‘Tahitian Gold’. It was chosen for its yellow foliage to echo the yellow blooms of the thryallis.  The acalypha and a red fountain grass will grow up tall, providing a nice backdrop to this composition.

Little Leaf Coleus 'Ruby Red', Profusion Zinnias - Trough PlantersSince it is a restaurant, after all, and ornamental peppers were plentiful in the nursery, those were placed next, just in front of red Dragonwing begonias. Eventually the peppers might be enveloped by the other plants, but until then they’ll contribute their small white flowers and ornamental purple peppers  to the mix,

Next up, some zinnias – the Profusion series perform beautifully in our heat and humidity and add  white blooms with yellow centers all season. A tiny leaved coleus, Ruby Gold,  will fill in the center.  Finally, to trail, some potato vine, a chartreuse-leaved variety in the Sweet Georgia series. These are not quite as rambunctious as the old standby, ‘Margarite’.

Thryallis, Ornamental Peppers, Profusion Zinnias, 'Red Flash' caladium, Coleus Last, a silver trailing plant. Usually I use silver dichondra for this color because it holds up extremely well in our heat and humidity where so many other silver plants fail. This year, though, I’ve decided to try a new plant…a selection of one that I haven’t had good luck with, but this is supposed to be an improved variety, so we’ll see. It’s a licorice vine, Helichrysum ‘Silver Star’. We’ll keep an eye on this one and hope for the best. It scored high marks  in the University of Georgia Athens trial gardens, so I have high hopes!

Maintenance, as always, will involve consistent watering, as well as  grooming to remove any yellowing leaves and caladium seed pods. I’ll also be clipping back the ‘Dragonwing’ begonias to keep them in bounds,  deadheading and clipping the zinnias, and cutting back the acalypha if it grows out of proportion.  Correct maintenance is the most important aspect of keeping container gardens beautiful!